“Put your hand in the air if you kiss your girl’s feet,” said Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire at mid-performance to his audience at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Shadow Lounge.
It was one of the few times during his set that everybody’s hands weren’t in the air, as the Brookyln rapper’s performance engaged the audiences participation throughout the set that rocked for upward of 40 minutes. The venues stage has a back-drop of a painting that shows an octopus being shot with blood splattering across the canvas. For this night, the visual seemed fit, as it reflects eXquire’s raw and unorthodox style.
Accompanied by ski-mask-wearing DJ SicksentZ and fellow Passion Family rapper Dallas Tha Kid, eXquire performed several new songs while also taking requests from the audience to perform their personal favorites. All of this was followed by a freestyle that closed his set, where eXquire asked the audience to challenge his impromptu rhyming skills by shouting out words for him to work into his rap.
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire is currently in the midst of a tour that has found him several cities throughout Canada and the U.S. This comes after his summer that featured dates with El-P and Killer Mike, and precedes October dates with Smoke DZA. All of this is in preparation for his Power & Passion EP, which drops October 30. The release features some surprises, and eXquire took the time to share a few of them with us, while also discussing other upcoming projects, his introduction to El-P, and an explanation of why almost all rappers lie.
HipHopDX: At your shows, people get really worked up. I saw a few people mouthing every word to some of your songs tonight. How do you find yourself connecting with your fans?
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire: It’s very honest, I basically speak about my life. I feel like my fans connect with my lifestyle. They connect with losing their job, or breaking up with their girl, just regular guy shit that we all go through. That’s what my shit is about, just being a regular guy, wanting more, and achieving it.
DX: You did “Biggie Tribute” on the Merry eX-Mas & Suck My Dick! mixtape. Have you ever seen him perform live?
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire: Yeah, I think it was Von King Park in [Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn], when I was little. I might’ve been nine, 10 years old. It was one of my first Hip Hop shows. They used to do this thing in Brooklyn, in the summer time, where every Brooklyn rapper used to come and perform in that particular park in Bedstuy. I’m almost positive it was Von King, but I’m not sure. I’ve seen M.O.P., Heavy D, and mad other people there.
DX: Can you talk about your introduction to music?
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire: I got started with music when I was 12 years old. Just regular shit, rapping and trying to sound hard. [Laughs] Eventually you develop your own style and know how you want to be portrayed, what you wanna say, and what you want people to get from you.
DX: You had mentioned on Twitter that you’re a fan of style over the “lyrical miracle” rappers. Who were the influencers of style for you?
DX: Speaking of Gucci, you’ve got a song called “Telephuck” that’s gonna be dropping soon. It’s produced by El-P and featuring Gucci Mane, right? How’d it come together?
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire: I made the song in El-P’s living room. And I was thinking, "You know who would sound good on this? Gucci Mane." So I called to see if he liked it, sent it to him, and he loved it.
DX: As far as underground Hip Hop goes, El-P was one of the first that really opened my eyes and ears. I remember picking up Company Flow’s Funcrusher Plus album and just being in awe of it.
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire: That was the king, my nigga. It’s undisputable.
DX: How were you introduced to him?
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire: One of my closest friends, Mad Dog, was in the Army and they used to go ride out and kill people to El-P’s music. And so, he put me on, and said "You should fuck with this kid El-P." I started listening to the instrumentals, and then I wanted to listen to the songs that went on the instrumentals. And I started listening to them, like, "Oh, he killed this shit."
I met El, coincidentally, walking down the street in Brooklyn. We were walking down the same street, he was with Bigg Jus. I was like "You El-P?" He said, "You’re eXquire, right?" Ever since then, that’s been my brother.
DX: You’ve worked with another member of Company Flow, Mr. Len, too.
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire: Yeah, I got a new song with Mr. Len. Mr. Len is also like my brother.
DX: You’re working with the production team Blue Sky Black Death on an EP as well. What direction are you going with that?
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire: We’re just gonna do some wild shit. Some Public Enemy meets Trap music-type shit.
DX: With all this other stuff going on, what do you have planned for the Universal debut?
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire: My album is gonna fuck people’s heads up. It’s some of the realest shit ever. I just hope I make it into people’s Top 10 Rap albums. That’s what I’m shooting for. I’m more about people feeling the music, 'cause niggas could say they hate your shit and then listen to it every day. You can’t pay niggas no mind. I just wanna be in people’s hearts and minds. If I’m in your heart and mind, I’ve succeeded.
DX: Another comment you said on Twitter, “If rappers were judged off being real, there’d be no rap.”
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire: [Laughs] I feel like, to a degree, almost everybody lies. I can’t point to one of my songs and be like, "That was a lie." Rap is just entertainment. You can get mad at Rick Ross or fuckin’ Milli Vanilli, whoever the fuck. You gotta realize that dudes are entertainers. You don’t watch a movie and say, "You know what, Arnold Schwarzenegger never killed an alien." [Laughs]
It’s entertainment, right? And Rap is the same thing, it’s escapism. Like, if [Jean-Michel] Basquiat painted it, he thought it. And if he thought it he lived it, in his head. Whether he lives it in his head or in real life don’t matter. Dudes that are real gangsta don’t rap, because they’re a gangsta. If dude’s a real hustler, he don’t rap, he hustles. To rap takes hours of practice, it takes devotion, it takes pain, it takes trying, it takes failing. All these niggas can’t be tough, a lot of these niggas is nice guys. You can’t be successful unless you’re a cool dude.
DX: Do you think lying in Rap applies more to the mainstream?
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire: It ain’t for me. I’m already gone, I’m not in the underground anymore. Even though I’m still in the underground now, I’m signed to a major [label]. All of the features they have me doing… I chose my path. If I fail, I chose my torture. If I succeed, I chose my pleasure. I didn’t wanna rap to be underground. I wanted to rap to be seen and heard by the most people possible, but I’m never gonna change me. My goal is to bring Underground Rap and make it mainstream. My goal is to merge them, to make it so that everybody can understand what I’m saying, whether you listen to Rick Ross or you listen to El-P, you could feel me.